Downtown Tauranga: a Summer Sunday


Late Sunday afternoon in Downtown Tauranga and it’s so different from the sad, quiet, dead collection of buildings I’ve previously encountered: there’s a tick and there’s a vibe (of sorts) even though the Tauranga Society of Artists has already packed up and gone home.

I’ve spent a couple of hours in the Tauranga City library – the carpark has reopened. This is obviously not yet known to many of the former regular library users as I can find a parking space with ease.

The now vacant space beside my car reveals another treasure for my version of “My Tauranga” a photo competition that will have its second outing on the Strand this summer. My alternative compendium of local sights will be published over the holidays.

Informal mixed media installation

Work finished and Library closed I wait with a multi-cultural local and international crowd in the “best fish and chip shop in Tauranga”. While I stand I have a conversation with a local artist and tell her how much I liked recent work of hers I’d seen in local gallery macandmor. I sit outside under an umbrella and eat watching the multi-shaded grey landscape of the water, the Papamoa Hills and the puffed-up sky. There’s a tiny breeze. Apparent visitors ask an apparent local to take cellphone photos of them eating their fish and chips.

I drive 5 minutes to Mount Maunganui; food intolerances put aside I’m going to have an ice cream and walk the loop. Memories of the 2 minute gelato recipe I’ve just posted on the ARTbop facebook flash before my eyes.

I park outside the former isite against a cruise ship backdrop and start my parade. Past the windows of Sisters & Co, down Maunganui Road into what I call the Frozen Yoghurt shop which also sells ice cream. The yoghurt comes out like Mr Whippy and is so cold last time I got a headache. Today I have that New Zealand tradition: a double scoop of hokey pokey.

Dribbling hokey pokey down my hand I walk the rest of Maunganui Road to the Tank corner turn and cruise back past a selection of tempting retail and busy noisy bars and restaurants. Happily full I think I’ll join the carol singers on the waterfront. Laugh out loud I can’t find a park.

I have to stop at the Devonport Road/Elizabeth Street lights and out of the corner of my eye I notice the window sign for TOI Art and Design Store. I drive around the block and surprise I can park outside. Inside it’s the usual hive of activity of a gallery pop-up instant event space. It’s under the direction of local arts consultant Parewhati Taikato.

The sleek line and multi-textured construction of one of the works by Shona Tawhiao

I return to the Library carpark. I walk down to the waterfront soundshell to check out the advertised Christmas carol singing event and the incubator and community created Christmas trees. I smile as I see some of the names and recognise images I’ve previously seen at the incubator.

Tauranga artist Michelle Estall’s contemporary take on the traditional hei tiki form

That observational Christmas cat. Nick Eggleston

Raranga artist and arts consultant Parewhati Taikato covers a tree

I can see a crowd around the soundshell. I can hear brass band sounds. There’s Millie Newitt in a hi-viz luminous yellow vest in animated conversation. I walk the fringe of the group and take some photos of the band. I hear two young women enthusiastically recounting the “story of Christmas”. “Joy to the World” starts without a run-up. I sing walking away. Nice idea, nice evening but I’m more impressed by the hordes of young families around the Hairy Maclary statues and the playground – worth every penny!

Millie Newitt of the Tauranga Mainstreet group

The Band, the Choir and the Storytellers

Part of the Sunday Carol singing crowd at the Soundshell

There’s a young family group around the angel wings painted on the wall opposite Starbucks. The children are taking turns having their photos taken pressed against the image. There are always people taking photos here. All ages but with the same entranced smile. That street art has to be something else that’s worth every penny!

Another one for the angel’s wings!

I check out all the Christmas trees I can find including those in Red Square. I also stop and ask the Crown & Badger what they’re doing – renovations. Watch this space.

All go at the Crown & Badger

Just waiting to be put back

Opposite the Tauranga Art Gallery three young men are seated outside the isite. I don’t hear what they yell at the beautiful young woman but she forcefully takes the advice to younger self of Dame Helen Mirren and leaves.

Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.


AND WHILE YOU’RE HERE; take a look at the Birgitt Shannon created video of the inaugural Affordable Art & Artisan Fair at the Black Sheep Bar & Grill Whakamarama   NEXT FAIR IS 28TH JANUARY 2018 11AM TO 3PM



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